Talbots reaches for young clientele, abandoning mature customers?
Perhaps your grandmother will celebrate her favorite store's good fortune by popping into her local Talbots for a new brightly-colored blazer or pair of sturdy, appropriate slacks. But if all goes according to plan, she may find herself disappointed. Part of what has financial experts calling for a Talbots comeback is a new strategy -- the company says it wants to bring younger women into the stores.
A quick visit to the chain's Web site confirms this. A dewy young model graces the home page. There's a $109 pair of 3.5-inch heel metallic strappy wedges for sale. And a category called 'Love It,' which is not a phrase I often hear tossed around at country-club teas.
For the moment, that's where Talbots' efforts end, which means the majority of the offerings are stuck in a strange limbo: modest, no-frills items displayed on young, leggy models. Case in point: this is what you get when you click 'short skirts' on Talbots' Web sites -- and I don't believe anyone, no matter their age, considers these short skirts.
The bottom line: Talbots needs to figure out who they are, and quickly, if they want to stay on financial forecasters' good side. And while they're at it, they should consider this idea: recession-inspired can't-miss strategies (go young! go young!) come and go. But there are few stores out there catering to stylish seniors -- and even fewer with such loyal customers. Does Talbots really want to give up that niche to compete with J. Crew, Banana Republic and a thousand other retailers under the sun?
As my grandmother would say, it's always best to stay true to who you are.